<
>

ITF was assured no tennis players part of doping ring

7/5/2006 - Tennis

LONDON -- The International Tennis
Federation said on Wednesday it had been assured that no
tennis players were part of a Spanish investigation into doping.

A report in a French newspaper earlier this week said
leading tennis and soccer players were part of an investigation
named Operation Puerto.

"Following reports in the media, the ITF was immediately in
touch with the Spanish authorities to request information about
allegations that tennis players are under investigation," ITF
president Francesco Ricci Bitti said in a statement.

"We have today been assured in writing by the Spanish
Ministry of Education and Science that no tennis players, either
Spanish or foreign, are under investigation.

"We feel that it is unfair and unfortunate that tennis
players, including Rafael Nadal, have been named, erroneously,
as under investigation.

"All top players are tested regularly under the Tennis
Anti-Doping Programme and are aware of the rules of the World
Anti-Doping Agency Code [WADA] code."

The ITF's statement came a day after the Spanish government
categorically denied that footballers and tennis players had
been implicated in the doping investigation that hit cycling.

However, the doctor at the center of the Spanish probe,
Eufemiano Fuentes, continued to insist on Wednesday he had
treated footballers, athletes and tennis players as well as
cyclists.

The names of more than 50 professional cyclists, including
Tour de France favourites Jan Ullrich, Ivan Basso and Francisco
Mancebo appeared on the report. They were withdrawn by their
teams from the race on Friday.

Nadal, who has reached the Wimbledon quarterfinals, reacted
angrily to the report.

"I've never taken anything in my life, and I never will," he
told reporters this week.

"I'm well enough educated in the sporting world and out of
sporting world not to cheat. People who write lies about other
people are bad people."